Blog Articles
26
Folks who vote in Republican primaries, if asked, will tell you they’re Conservative and most will firmly add they’re Very Conservative as opposed to A Little Conservative.
 
In the uncompromising depth of his conservative beliefs, Ted Cruz is their cup of tea.
 
But…
 
It’s hard to put your finger on that ‘but…’ but instead of marching onto the Presidential battlefield at the head of an army of Conservatives, Cruz trails Scott Walker and Rand Paul.    
 
National Review published an article by Charles Cooke that may touch on the reason why.
 
Mr. Cooke described the first time he heard Cruz speak: He listened, agreed, admired Cruz’s intelligence, never doubted his sincerity but added, For all his obvious talent Cruz’s rhetorical style frankly makes my hair curl a little.
 
He heard both Cruz and Marco Rubio speak a year later: The audience, he wrote, was more excited to hear Cruz – but after the speeches that changed.
 
Rubio talks to you – Cruz seemed to lecture, one attendee told him.
 
Ted Cruz is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative running in a primary full of two-fisted conservative voters and being tough and smart and sincere may be all it takes at the end of the day. But… how you explain your beliefs matters and a glimmer of conversation, and speaking to people rather than at them, might be the fuel to ignite Ted Cruz’s campaign.


 

 

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25
Sometimes in politics you have to rise above principle.
 
Republicans vow to resist fight President Obama’s “redistributionist” economic policies. Then GOP legislators plot to redistribute sales tax revenues from urban (Democratic) to rural (Republican) counties.
 
Senator Ted Cruz vows to repeal Obamacare. Then he signs up for insurance under Obamacare.
 
Governor McCrory pledged to end the corrupt, secretive practices of his Democratic predecessors. Then he repeatedly fails to accurately report his financial affairs.
 
Legislative Republicans promised to end the partisan machinations of their Democratic predecessors. Then they gerrymander congressional and legislative elections and then move on to county and municipal elections.
 
John Hood has a timely warning in his blog about the unintended consequences of monkeying with elections: “…my message to today’s North Carolina Republicans is this: change an electoral rule if it makes sense on the merits, but don’t do it assuming that your party will benefit. Back in the day, Democrats checked their swing. Now they’re glad they did.”

 

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25
Yesterday in Mosul, the New York Times reports, a man and woman were handcuffed then stoned by ISIS for adultery.
 
Later in the day ISIS took three young men from their uncle’s home and beheaded then in a public street after hearing a rumor the uncle had met with a Kurdish leader.


 

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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24
With the Irish Prime Minister sitting beside him, Obama said Republicans are against education. Infrastructure. Research. The things needed to create jobs. National defense. And the middle class.
 
Then having thrown down the gauntlet, and concisely summed up how he felt about the Republican budget, the President rolled out the welcome mat for the Prime Minister.
 
Next I turned to a stack of newspaper clippings about Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker – looking for an answer to Obama.
 
Walker was criticizing unions.
 
Cruz was criticizing Obama’s deal with Iran.  
 
Paul was talking about criminal justice reform.
 
And Bush was saying it’s the President’s job to reweave civility into political discourse.
 
Answering Obama would have been as simple as saying, If you don’t agree with the President about how big the federal government ought to be – he says you’re against the middle class. Now, does that really make sense?  
 
But no voice took up the gauntlet.


 

 

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23
Ex-Congressman Barney Frank suggests this slogan for Democrats: “We’re not perfect, but they’re nuts.”
 
Take the GOP’s hard-line opposition to Loretta Lynch’s nomination as Attorney General. On one of Sunday’s talk shows, a Republican said the Senate shouldn’t even vote on her nomination. Why? Because, he said, she’ll continue the policies of current AG Eric Holder.
 
Help me here. If the Senate doesn’t confirm Lynch, then Holder stays on, right? And pursues the same policies as now, right? The policies that President Obama wants his AG, whoever he or she is, to pursue. Right?
 
How does refusing Lynch an up-or-down vote change that?

 

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23
Pat and Phil don’t gee and haw.
 
Awhile back, after the Coal Ash Spill, Pat went to work cleaning up the mess, then Phil  passed a bill to have a Commission take over the job – which got Pat’s hackles up.
 
Pat said the Constitution was written in black and white and no one could run the clean-up but the Governor – and sued. And a three judge panel agreed: Phil and the leaders of the State House had thrown the Constitution out the window – which got Phil’s dander up.
 
He said that the court was wrecking the way NC government had been run for 100 years then he and House Speaker Tim Moore appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court – then the fireworks started.
 
Senate Rules Committee Chairman and A-force-to-be-Reckoned-With Tom Apodaca cancelled every Senate hearing to confirm Pat’s appointees. He put the hearings for the head of the SBI, the Banking Commission and the Industrial Commission on ice.
 
In the middle of the rhubarb the Secretary of Commerce trooped over to the Senate and testified that Pat urgently, desperately, immediately needed more money for ‘incentives’ – so he could make deals with corporations to bring jobs to NC.
 
Phil sent Pat’s plan straight to Apodaca’s Rules Committee where it may sit until frogs grow wings – then introduced his own plan (a tax cut).
 
Pat fired back that Phil’s plan would “break the bank,” leaving the state in dire financial straits.
 
Phil shot back Pat wanted to give corporations a billion dollars in incentives while he’d only cut taxes $500 million – so how could he be the one ‘breaking the bank?’
 
The number two Republican in the Senate, Harry Brown, then waded in. He said it was time Pat faced the music: He’d drained the incentives fund dry and now he was trying to dodge responsibility. Pat had given 90% of the incentives money to the three richest counties, including Pat’s own county, and it was time to give the other 97 counties some respect.  
 
Across town, the same day, speaking to an auditorium full of mayors and city councilmen, Pat tackled Phil’s ham-handed politics head-on.
 
Last fall Republicans lost every County Commissioner race in Wake County (Raleigh). So, as soon as the Senate got back to town, it passed a bill to redraw every county commissioner’s district. To elect more Republicans.
 
Pat told the mayors and city councilmen that some legislators in Raleigh didn’t just want to be legislators, they wanted to be mayors and city councilmen as well. But if they wanted to run local government they ought to run for city council.
 
The way Phil’s supporters see it he’s the real McCoy. A true conservative. Who doesn’t just talk the talk – he passes bills that cut taxes and spending. While Pat’s prone to trip over his own feet and say, Slow down. Don’t cut too much.
 
The way Pat’s supporters see it Phil’s power hungry – and prone to deal with anyone standing in his way with ham-handed ruthlessness. Which has made the Senate unpopular. Which means fighting Phil makes Pat popular.


 

 

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19
Off and on the last month I’ve been uncharacteristically uninterested in blogging or even talking about politics. It generally happened after I sat in on the trial of the man who murdered Jamie Kirk Hahn, tried to murder Nation Hahn and in a real sense took the lives of many people in their families.
 
If you want to know what a murder like this does to a family, take an hour or so off from March Madness or whatever, watch this morning’s sentencing hearing and listen to the statements by Nation and Jamie’s parents. Your heart will break, but you also will be thankful for all that you have in your life right now.
 
You will see what they’ve gone through since April 22, 2013. You will see what they face for the rest of their lives.
 
You can imagine what they’ve gone through the four weeks of this trial.
 
First off, the courtroom’s spectator seats are not built for comfort. Imagine sitting in a hard church pew six or seven hours a day. Some family members sat there every single minute for every single day.
 
Imagine seeing the autopsy photos and the stab wounds.
 
Imagine seeing the bloody, brutal kitchen knife that the murderer bought at Harris-Teeter, brought to the Hahns’ home and used to stab Jamie 24 times.
 
Imagine listening to her voice, the 911 call and the murderer’s confession.
 
Imagine sitting through the painstaking presentation of what Jamie and Nation suffered that evening and what Jamie suffered in the 30 hours before she died.
 
Imagine spending every night for almost a month away from your home, staying at a friend’s house or at a hotel, including every weekend for some family members for whom home was too far away.
 
Imagine sitting through – and, in Nation’s case, going through – the plodding, maddening, repetitive and sometimes offensive cross-examination by Public Defender Joe Arbour. Not to mention Arbour barking “Note my objection!” when the calm, even-keeled Judge Paul Ridgeway sustained a prosecution objection or ruled against the defense.
 
Imagine then sitting through Arbour’s often-angry and even antagonistic closing argument, shouting several times of the prosecution’s case, “It stinks! It stinks!”
 
Assistant District Attorney Doug Faucette’s closing argument was calm, methodical and merciless. He quietly reviewed the evidence. He explained what the law means when it says a first-degree murder conviction requires “premeditation,” “deliberation” and “malice.” He closed with a picture taken of Jamie and Nation walking together on the beach, unaware they were being photographed, unaware they would never again walk together on the beach.
 
The jury got it. They came back with a verdict in about an hour and a half. Court veterans said they had never seen a first-degree murder jury decide so quickly.
 
Imagine, finally, the strength and the courage it required as the family stood around Jamie’s father, Chris Kirk, with Nation beside him, as Chris read this statement from the family:
 
“We are gratified by the jury’s verdict, and we are grateful to so many people: the members of the jury; Doug Faucette, Karen Scott, Abbie Lefever, Lorrin Freeman and the entire staff of the District Attorney’s Office; Judge Paul Ridgeway; Detective Zeke Morse and the entire Raleigh Police Department; all of the State’s witnesses; and the many, many friends and family members who have supported and sustained us through the difficult weeks of this trial and these terrible twenty-three months.
 
“We know that difficult times still lie ahead. We will never be able to fill the hole left in our lives by the death of Jamie. We would give all that we have to have Jamie with us, to see her grow older and become a mother, and to witness the difference she would have made in the world.
 
“Jamie’s death is a loss not just for our present and future, but for so many who were robbed of so much – the children Jamie and Nation would have parented, the lives that she would have changed for the better, the causes that she would have worked for, and the strangers who would have been greeted by her essential kindness, laughter and smile.
 
“We will strive to keep her smile, her service and her spirit alive through the work of the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation.”

 

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17
Yes, the Republicans’ Wake County power grab is raw, cynical politics. But it could help Democrats win legislative seats, the Governor’s Office, the U.S. Senate race and even a U.S. Senate majority and the Presidency next year.
 
Wake is the biggest-voting county and the biggest swing-vote county in a big state that could decide elections up and down the ballot, all the way to the White House. Note that last year Republicans nearly lost several Wake County legislative races, even in gerrymandered districts and even in a good Republican year. And a presidential-year turnout in Wake County would have reelected Kay Hagan.
 
The Republicans did lose all four Wake County commissioners’ races. So now they want to gerrymander the commissioners. You know their scheme stinks when an even-handed old hand like Rob Christensen feels moved to observe, “This bill is about rigging the Wake County elections, just as the legislature has previously rigged legislative and congressional elections through gerrymandering.”
 
If legislative Republicans pass the election-rigging bill, they might awaken the Wake County electoral giant and suffer the consequences, both for gerrymandering and for what looks like a war on cities and urban areas.
 
By the way, Governor McCrory could use this bill to separate himself from an unpopular legislature, instead of fighting over his appointments (as a former Duke employee) to a coal ash commission. Speaking out against the Wake bill (he can’t veto it) would help him in precisely the areas where he could lose the election to Roy Cooper. Of course, if the Governor speaks up and the legislature ignores him, he’ll look even more impotent. In the meantime, we’ll assume silence is consent.
 
Democrats may not have made their best case against the scheme yet. They should tell Wake County voters – not just those in Raleigh and Cary, but ALL Wake County voters: The legislature is taking away your right to vote. Last year you voted for all seven commissioners. But Republicans don’t like how you voted. So next year you get to vote for only two commissioners.
 
Republicans are betting voters won’t get mad about gerrymandering and raw politics. Want to bet they get made at politicians taking away their votes?
 
Christensen also captured this gem from Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican: “Let’s get down to it. We’re talking rural vs. city.”
 
You wonder why Republicans want that war in a fast-growing and urbanizing state. But they got it.

 

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16
Back when Navy Seals evened the score with Osama bin Laden, the Secretary of Defense proclaimed “defeating al-Qaeda” was within our grasp. Victory was at hand.
 
Then the wheel came off the cart.
 
And now up in Washington the Director of National Intelligence is telling Congress the threat of ‘terrorism is worse than at any point in history.’
 
How did we wind up in this train wreck?
 
The answer is harsh: We deceived ourselves.

We were never on the verge of victory.
 
And – no matter what we were promised when we invaded Iraq – there was never going to be a limited war with a quick and painless victory.
 
And after the fighting was done in Iraq we were never going to be able to quickly pack up and come home – because if we failed to lay a foundation for peace (with a successful occupation) we’d end up with… ISIS.
 
We’re also learning there’s no substitute for a leader (in the White House) who can explain the wickedness of ISIS. Politically-correct talk rationalizing beheadings (by saying they are the result of poverty or political alienation) doesn’t cut it – and neither do euphemisms (like calling ISIS simply a new kind of ‘Violent Extremism’) that infer ISIS selling infidel women as slaves has nothing to do with its peculiar version of Islam.  
 
We’ve spent over a decade learning the hard way: One mistake at a time.
 
The American people arenow (according to a new poll) ready to fight ISIS. And send troops into combat.
 
And what about the President? He says we can defeat ISIS with one more quick, painless, limited war.
 


 

 

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16
A TAPster alerts us to another potential April surprise for taxpayers:
 
Republicans in the legislature left a little bag of stink on the doorsteps of millions of self-employed North Carolinians who’ll step in it when they calculate their state taxes in the next month.
 
The Repubs proudly boast of reducing state tax rates. They are unlikely to boast about their elimination of the exemption for the first $50,000 earned by a self-employed person.
 
Surprise! In the eyes of our friends at the Department of Revenue, it’s like you got a $50,000 raise that you have to pay taxes on.
 
Except you didn’t get a raise. And your state tax bill is going up dramatically.
 
It stinks to fool people like this.

 

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Carter & Gary
 
Carter Wrenn
 
 
Gary Pearce
 
 
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
 
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
 
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
 
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
 
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
 
 
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